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  • Writer's pictureChristine Collister

It's not hotter than July on the tiny isle...

Updated: Aug 7

Blogpost No7 July 2023

Ola sweet Blogpost reader. It is always a pleasure to connect and expand upon each month’s trials and tribulations with you. As ever I’m batting with the Hounds of Time snapping at my heels and settling into remember the comings and goings of July. A mixed bag for sure.

I was honoured to deliver the Eulogy for Esther Margaret McLoughlin, my sister-in-law, Rachel’s, lovely mum, who passed unexpectedly the middle of June. Her service took place at Douglas Crematorium July 6th. Colin, my youngest brother and Rachel had asked me to sing Songbird at the ceremony. I was more than willing. I offered to read the eulogy, knowing they were too upset to do so themselves. I knew, having done so for dad in 2017, that a personal delivery would give them some solace.

It’s a strange and humbling experience to read someone’s life out loud, however abridged it becomes at these poignant moments. Esther was not only a kind, generous, sweet, ever-smiling, fun-loving woman (mother, granny, widow, friend, work colleague etc) but she was feisty, far seeing, funny, determined, extraordinarily supportive and kind beyond measure. She is sorely missed and will be remembered with warmth and love far into the future.

I have heard from Nicola Dixon on the progress of her 3 pieces of art for The Children Of The Sea and what she’s shared so far, is exquisite. I’m truly excited by her vision for each of the songs. She faces her own family challenges, much as I do, looking after her parents and so time is needed to be a little more elastic in terms of the finish line but she’s definitely getting there. Thanks Nicola!

We’ve had such varied weather this past month, a few sunny days which thankfully punctuate the gloom and blowy nature of the rest. All in all the garden’s coping and the greenhouse is bursting with soon-to-be ripening tomatoes. The cucumbers have been fab so far though a couple of neglectful watering opportunities on my part, had them wilting pathetically for a while. I thought I might have killed them off completely. But they’re incredibly forgiving and have bounced back brilliantly. I water more consistently now. I’ve scooped all the potatoes from their beds and will prep for more to be planted in a few weeks, maybe a month, in the hope we have new potatoes for Christmas. Sorry to even mention that word at the height of summer - how ridiculous of me! Forgive me?

I was given a beautiful thank you gift of vouchers for the Kirby Garden Centre, for singing at Mark Shimmin’s memorial service last month. A kind and generous offering from his lovely wife Barbara, which I’ve already spent. In her sweet letter explaining the connections between us via music over the decades, she gave me a view into Mark's musical enthusiasm and the concerts they'd attended over the years. It was such a warm and tender reminder how none of us truly know how or when we touch and are touched by other's lives. On Monday Bob, mum and Sweep accompanied me to the garden centre and while they enjoyed cake and coffee on the delightful patio, I browsed the plethora of plant possibilities arrayed across numerous terraces. It was a lovely experience and we came away with a bevy of beautiful flowering plants to augment the pots in front of the kitchen which now look fantastic again. Plus … seed potatoes for the aforementioned … sorry I promise I won’t mention it again.

I’ve taken the plunge and offered to do the front cover artwork for The Children Of The Sea - gulp! There I’ve written in black and white (er turquoise and black to be more accurate?). Anyway I had this vision come to me during a beautiful meditation with friends a few weeks ago. I decided to give it a go and see if I could recreate what I’d seen in my mind’s eye and … there’s a definite possibility I could make it work. I’m trying to do a version each day and using it as my daily practice (something I started January 1st this year). If nothing else I have something to focus on and I’m really enjoying the process. I’m not convinced yet that I’m getting any better with each attempt but … there are signs it might work. Your kind and positive thoughts are always welcome.

Due to mum’s ever increasing difficult and changing behaviour, we’ve finally lost Daycare at Peel. Mum’s been going there since dad died and has found great comfort and company over the last 5 and a half years she’s attended. The staff there have been wonderful and it’s a sadness for all concerned that mum’s no longer able to cope with the dynamic of a larger group of people. Her comprehension of every day situations is becoming less and her obvious frustration at this development, totally understandable, is more and more challenging. It’s taken a week or so to come to terms with the situation but we’ve been grateful for the support of those people whose job it is to bridge the gap and find possible respite care in the near future. Mum has a new Social worker who’s got the ball rolling and managed to get me filling forms (a pet hate of mine!) for the required assistance. It will be down to charitable organisations to find support during the week now but that too will be sorted … soon enough.

I actually took mum to a dementia care home this week to see how they and she might feel about a week (possibly more in the future fingers crossed!) of respite, sometime next month. Mum was firing on all cylinders that day and made a wonderful impression … with me signalling in the background when perhaps things were different to her telling. The manageress and her assistant obviously were clued in to everything going (and not) going on. Mum had been up, dressed and dolled up to the nines since 4.45am! Hey-ho. She was hilarious and had everyone laughing … always a boon. We shall see what we shall see. Thanks for listening.

Onto more musical topics and I have to confess, once again I’ve been unable to record something new for this month as promised. But there are always the “vaults” that can be exploited to share, hopefully, for your listening pleasure. Anyway this month I’m offering up (much like a sacrifice) my first demo of You Got Me Going which was beautifully Daphnefied for On Arrival. I thought you might appreciate the humble beginnings of Daphne's wonderfully dynamic vocal arrangement. It’s still a great sadness to me that we never got to perform it live when the CD came out. C’est la vie! However I think you can hear (in the demo) the inspiration for the fabulous recorded version that was finally released in 2021 and still available to buy on Daphne’s website. Enjoy!

I will leave you this month, dear reader, with a YT video of "Skin Deep", posted in 2014 (!) featured on Under Construction II way back in 2009. A song inspired by Manx artist Patrick Farrell an installation piece called "Poverty Is Only Skin Deep".

Thank you, as ever, for taking the time to stop by and see how I'm fairing. I do appreciate you! Till next time .. stay well and keep rising above the turbulence!

Much love

Christine x

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